Validation that a one-year fellowship in minimally invasive/bariatric surgery can eliminate the “learning curve” for laparoscopic Roux-en-Y gastric bypass (LRYGB): Fellows’ first 100 cases in practice replicate the quality of their training institution.

INTRODUCTION: The concept that advanced surgical training can reduce or eliminate the “learning curve” for complex procedures makes logical sense but is difficult to verify and has not been tested for LRYGB. We sought to determine if minimally invasive / bariatric surgery fellowship graduates would demonstrate complication-related outcomes (CRO) equivalent to the outcomes achieved during their training experience under the supervision of experienced bariatric surgeons.
METHODS: We compared CRO for the first 100 consecutive LRYGBs performed in practice by 5 consecutive minimally invasive / bariatric fellows at new institutions (total 500 cases) to CRO for the 611 consecutive LRYGBs performed during their fellowship training experience under the supervision of 3 experienced bariatric surgeons at the host training institution.
RESULTS: The two patient groups did not differ demographically. The 18 types of major and minor complications identified after LRYGB did not differ among the 5 fellowship graduates. The mentors’ CRO were compatible with published benchmark data. As compared to the training institution data, the overall incidence of complications for the combined experience of fellowship graduates did not differ statistically from that of the mentors. The fellowship graduates’ early experience included zero non-gastrojejunostomy leak (0% vs. 1.5%) and a low rate of anastomotic stricture (0.8% vs. 3.0%), incisional hernia (1% vs. 4.4%), bowel obstruction (0% vs. 3%), wound infection (0.3% vs. 3.1%) and gastrointestinal hemorrhage (0.2% vs. 1.6%). The rate of gastrojejunostomy leak (1.8% vs. 2.6%) and, most importantly, mortality (0.8% vs. 0.7%) did not differ between the two groups.
CONCLUSIONS: Fellowship graduates achieved high quality surgical outcomes from the very beginning of their post-fellowship practices which are comparable to those of their experienced mentors. These data validate the concept that advanced surgical training can eliminate the learning curve often associated with complex minimally invasive procedures, specifically LRYGB.

Session: Podium Presentation

Program Number: S025

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